When then President John F. Kennedy listed Ian Fleming's book among his top ten favorite novels of all time, a list published in Life Magazine, March 17, 1961, the producers decided to make this the second James Bond movie. According to the book "Death of a President" (1964) by William Raymond Manchester, this was the last motion picture JFK ever saw, on a private screening in the White House, November 20, 1963.
Over 3,500 onlookers flocked to the Sirkeci Railway Station in Istanbul to watch the filming. Overcrowding caused delays in shooting due to such an unexpected turnout. As such, director Terence Young had stuntman Peter Perkins go and create a distraction by hanging upside from a balcony nearby so filming could proceed.
The collapsing rifle given to Bond isn't a gimmick, but was an Armalite AR-7 survival rifle which was a production item which actually does disassemble and fit into its stock. However it fires the .22 long rifle cartridge, not .25 caliber as was stated in the film. As of 2005, it is still in production, although not by Armalite. It is one of very few firearms that will float when dropped into water.
From Russia with Love (1963) marks the last appearance of the Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson) character, who also appeared in Dr. No (1962). The original plan was for Sylvia to appear in each film as Bond's regular girlfriend, continually frustrated when Bond is called away for his next assignment. This idea was, obviously, scrapped.
The rats in the film were originally coated with chocolate as they were lab rats and needed to look like sewer rats. However, they wouldn't run and sat around licking themselves. Then, real rats were used but they wouldn't run in the right direction until Sean Connery opened the door of the studio. Finally, the production went to Madrid, Spain to shoot the rat sequence.
Years earlier, Alfred Hitchcock was originally considered as director, with James Bond being played by Cary Grant and Grace Kelly lured out of retirement to play Tatiana Romanova. These ideas were scrapped after Vertigo (1958) failed at the box office. The helicopter chase scene is a homage to Hitchcock's cropduster sequence in North by Northwest (1959).
Pedro Armendáriz playing the role of Kerim Bey, was terminally ill during filming with the cancer he had likely contracted while filming the notorious film The Conqueror (1956) near the site of the US nuclear test site in the Utah desert. Armendáriz had accepted the role in From Russia with Love (1963) partially as a means of providing financial security for his widow, and the film's schedule was altered in order to film the scenes in which he appeared while he was still physically able. Towards the end of the filming of those scenes, such as the Gypsy camp battle sequence however, director Terence Young had to double for the actor in some of his long shots. One month after all his scenes were completed, Armendáriz, in emulation of his friend Ernest Hemingway, committed suicide in a hospital in Los Angeles as his cancer progressed into the advanced stages.
The scene in which James Bond and Tatiana Romanova first meet in the hotel suite has since been used as an audition scene for potential Bond actors and Bond girls. This can be seen in the "making of" documentaries for other Bond films including Octopussy (1983).
The love scene between Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi caused censorship problems in Britain. In the scene, a sweating SPECTRE cameraman films James Bond and Tatiana Romanova in bed from a cabinet de voyeur. The British Board of Film Censors mandated to producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman that the voyeurism in the scene was too explicit and to keep the footage of the cameraman as minimal as possible or face risking having the whole sequence censored.
In 1950, a US naval attaché was assassinated and thrown from the Orient Express train by a Communist agent. This story inspired Ian Fleming's novel "From Russia With Love". Fleming's own experience at an Interpol Conference in Istanbul, Turkey provided the setting. The film To Paris with Love (1955) provided the tile.
Vladek Sheybal (Kronsteen the chess master) was a well-studied Polish actor hesitant to accept a role in a Bond film because he thought it might not be a good career move, but his friend Sean Connery persuaded him to sign on and it has helped his career enormously.
The mosque where James Bond meets Tatiana is called the Hagia Sophia. It was originally a church that was converted to a Mosque in 1453. It is frequently featured in art history texts as an example of domed Basilica.
The gadget Bond uses to check his hotel telephone for bugs is actually a device called an Elcometer. It is used to check the thickness (in thousandths of an inch) of surface coatings, usually paint, on ferrous surfaces. The needle moves sharply across the scale because, though the bodies of that type of telephone were plastic, their bases were painted steel.
This is the first James Bond film to feature John Barry as the primary soundtrack composer. The score allegedly still contains riffs from Monty Norman's work on Dr. No (1962). Barry himself felt that Goldfinger (1964) was the first film in the series where he had complete creative control over the soundtrack.
Although it was not released until quite late in 1963, the film was the biggest box-office success of the year in Britain - no small achievement in the year of such hit films as Tom Jones (1963), The Great Escape (1963) and The Birds (1963), all of which were released in the summer. Not only that, but in the 82 days between its premiere in London and the end of 1963, it had become the most lucrative film of any kind ever to be released in British cinemas. One industry analyst described the phenomenon of its popularity as "akin to Beatlemania" - a remark which must have made United Artists very happy as they were about to make the first The Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night (1964).
A scene was cut just before Bond meets Romanova on the ferry. Bond tries to lose his mysterious pursuer and hops into a taxi. Bond takes control of the taxi's brakes, causing the following Bulgarian to run into the back of the taxi as a third car joins the pile-up. The driver of the third car turns out to be Kerim Bey. When the angry Bulgarian protests to Bey, he is told "My friend, this is life", while Bond makes good his escape in the British Embassy's Rolls Royce. Young shot the scene ten times to get the long ash on Bey's cigar that actor Pedro Armendariz insisted on. It wasn't until a private screening week before the film's release that Young's twelve year old son spotted that the Bulgarian had in fact already been killed by Grant in the mosque, so it was cut.
The helicopter (carrying director Terence Young during filming) crashed over water, trapping the director below the surface for a considerable time in an air bubble inside the copter's canopy. He was rescued and then immediately went back behind the camera with his arm in a sling.
Hoping for an end to the Cold War, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman didn't want James Bond's main enemy to be Russian, so for the film version his nemesis is the fictitious criminal organization SPECTRE, seeking revenge for the death of their operative, Dr. No (1962).
The boat chase at the end of the movie, although supposed to be taking place in the Greek archipelago, was actually filmed in the West of Scotland. The pier James Bond takes off from is at Lunga House and the scene where the flaming barrels are thrown off the boat in Loch Craignish Ardfern, Argyll.
The Royal World Premiere of From Russia with Love (1963) was held on 10 October 1963 and attended by John Russell and The Duchess of Bedford. It was held at multiple venues in London which included the London Pavilion with the Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square being the main venue for the occasion. This was the final James Bond premiere attended by James Bond creator Ian Fleming before his death.
The helmsman of the lead SPECTRE powerboat pursuing Bond is Peter Twiss OBE DSC who, in 1956, flew the Fairey Delta 2 aircraft to a new world air speed record of 1,132 mph. At the time of the shooting of the film he was working for Fairey Marine at Hamble, Hampshire, the manufacturer of the powerboats used. Mr. Twiss details his role in the film in his autobiography "Faster then the Sun". He describes a misunderstanding between Sean Connery and Terence Young regarding timing during the fuel explosion sequence which resulted in a re-shoot after 2 days delay.
While the film was in pre-production, the historic route of the Orient Express was changed. Since the 19th Century, the westward-bound Orient Express stopped in Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Strasbourg before arriving in Paris. But, beginning in 1962, the train followed a more southerly route, stopping in Sofia, Belgrade, Venice, Milan and Lausanne. Changes in the script were made to accommodate the re-routing.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include Love and Kisses From Russia (Belgium); Moscow Versus 007 (Portugal); The Return Of Agent 007 (Latin America); Love Greetings From Moscow (Germany); 007 In Istanbul (Finland); Hearty Kisses From Russia (France); Agent 007 Sees Red (Sweden) ; 007: From Russia With Love (Spain); Moscow Against 007 (Brazil); 007 Averted The Spy Plot (China); To 007, From Russia With Love (Italy); Agent 007 Is Hunted (Denmark) and From Moscow With Love (Poland)
According to the film's CD Soundtrack sleeve notes, this film's theme song debuted in the UK Charts on 14 November 1963 and went to No. #20. In the USA, the film's soundtrack album charted on the 2nd of May 1964 and went to No. #27. A number of tracks on the album do not appear in the film whilst the main titles track on the album is different to that in the film. The soundtrack has never had an extended release with the release of extra tracks like other Bond soundtracks apparently due to the masters being lost.
The film's storyline deals with the Lektor Decoding Machine, the name of which was called the Spektor Decoding Machine in the original Ian Fleming novel. Its name was changed because of its similarity with the name of the fictitious criminal spy organization "Spectre". He based this device on his knowledge of the Enigma Decoding Machine from World War II. Fleming was involved with the Ultra Network who cracked the Enigma Code in 1939. The Ultra Network's activities were not released until 1975 in a book called A Man Called Intrepid (1979). Fleming's friend Sir William Stevenson wrote the book which was published at the time when the closed period on wartime secrets expired and the records were finally declassified.
"Q"/ Major Boothroyd played by Desmond Llewelyn appears for the first time. This character was played by Peter Burton in Dr. No (1962). When Burton was unable to return for this film, the role was recast with Llewelyn in the part. Llewelyn would reprise the role of "Q" in 16 subsequent Bond films (17 performances in all, but he didn't appear in Live and Let Die (1973). Q is referred to by his real name, "Major Boothroyd," only in Dr. No (1962), this movie, and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
Bond's trick attaché case is the first true Bond film gadget. Other "state of the art" gadgets of the time are the mobile car phone in Bond's Bentley, the miniature tape recorder in the camera, the AR7 survival rifle, the retractable garrote in Grant's watch, and the SPECTRE spring loaded shoe knives.
First Bond film to end with the declaration "James Bond will return in ...", in this case it was Goldfinger (1964). A tradition that would continue until it was used for the last time at the end of Octopussy (1983).
Product placements, brand integrations and promotional tie-ins for this movie include Rolex Watches, James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner; Taittinger Blanc de Blanc Champagne; a billboard advertising another movie made by the Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli called Call Me Bwana (1963) starring Anita Ekberg and Bob Hope; and Bentley motor vehicles, James Bond drives a Derby Bentley Mark 4 ½ Liter Sports Tourer convertible, the only time he drives a Bentley in the Eon Productions series.
Signs on a door in the Russian embassy in Russian mean rather Twitch/Shove than Pull/Push (and Bond actually pushes when the sign says to twitch). Both Russian words are quite hilarious for a Russian speaker.
Krilencu is supposed to be Bulgarian, but uses the Romanian or Moldovan spelling--the Bulgarian would be Krylenko. His hideout is behind a billboard advertising Call Me Bwana (1963), also produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
The garden setting in the opening sequence was inspired by Last Year at Marienbad (1961) which had a lush garden setting with statues. It was actually the garden at Pinewood Studios and director Terence Young had the garden recreated in principal from the art house classic.
The name of the director of photography Ted Moore can be seen on the body of Julie Mendez during the opening titles sequence. This was intended as a practical joke by cinematographer Frank Tidy and main titles designer Robert Brownjohn.
The production was beset with production problems which posed serious problems for the assemblage of the film. Many filmed scenes didn't match with a re-written script and the film was over-scheduled and had gone over-budget. Editor Peter R. Hunt used innovative editing techniques and tricks which saved the picture.
The periscope in the scene in which Bond and Kerim Bey spy on the Russian Embassy from the Basilica Cistern was actually a dummy wooden periscope double made by UK manufacturing company Barr and Stroud.
Vehicles featured included The Orient Express Train; SPECTRE's two-seater Hiller UH-12C helicopter; a yellow C30 1961 Chevrolet flatbed delivery truck; a 1960 Ford Fordor Ranch Wagon; a Venetian water taxi gondola; a Fairey Huntress 23 speed boat being pursued by two Huntsman 28 and two Huntress speedboats. In Istanbul, Bond is pursued by a black Citroën Traction Avant and chauffeured by a black Rolls Royce Silver Wraith Phantom V. Bond owns a Bentley automobile as was the case in the original Ian Fleming novels. Here it is a green-black Derby Bentley Mark IV ½ Liter Sports Tourer drophead coupé convertible with MTS radio car-telephone, a uncommon toy for 1963 and only new to Britain at the time of the film. Bond never has a Bentley car again in a Bond film except for Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
Two actresses with bit parts would reappear in later films: Nadja Regin, who plays Kerim's girl, would play the dancer at the start of Goldfinger (1964), and Martine Beswick (called Martin Beswick in the credits), one of the Gypsy girls, returned as Paula in Thunderball (1965).
The film's title song "From Russia With Love" sung by Matt Monro can be heard on the radio when James Bond and Sylvia Trench are sitting in a boat having a picnic. This song was the first ever James Bond title song to receive a Best Song Golden Globe nomination. A number of others would follow for Bond movies. A cover version of this song sung by Natacha Atlas can be heard on the David Arnold Bond song compilation album, "Shaken and Stirred: the David Arnold James Bond Project".
A sequence was filmed wherein the car of the Bulgar is trapped between two other cars while he is trying to follow Bond. The Bulgar approaches the window of one of the cars to find Kerim behind the wheel. Kerim smiles and tells him, "My friend, that is life." These scenes were cut from the finished film.
In the first appearance of the Ernst Stavro Blofeld villain character in a James Bond movie. His part is uncredited in the credits, which are attributed to a question mark. Dawson had previously appeared in Dr. No (1962) as Professor Dent and again would return as Blofeld in Thunderball (1965). He is the only actor to have ever played Blofeld more than once. The voice of Blofeld in this film was dubbed by an uncredited Eric Pohlmann.
The series regular stuntman is the actor appearing in the gun barrel sequence at the beginning of the film. The same footage was used for the first three James Bond movies, the others being Dr. No (1962) and Goldfinger (1964).
Wife of producer Harry Saltzman is leaning out the window of the Orient Express, next to the window containing Robert Shaw, as it leaves the station. The film was actually shot on the real Orient Express.
(unconfirmed) Some reports maintain that James Bond creator Fleming appears standing next to the Orient Express train. He is wearing grey trousers and a white jumper and stands on the platform to the right side of the train. Some sources deny that this is him.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Red Grant has no dialog until he first meets Bond, first speaking in a rich, upper class English accent. After he's revealed his true identity to Bond, Grant's English accent changes into a lower-class Irish accent as he is explaining the SPECTRE background plot.
The brutal fight in the train compartment between James Bond and Red Grant lasts only a few minutes on screen but took three weeks to film. Most of it was performed by the actors themselves, rather than doubles.
The opening scene where "James Bond" is stalked and killed by Red Grant was originally written to appear later in the film. However, editor Peter R. Hunt figured it would work better as a teaser at the start of the movie, thus instigating the now-traditional pre-credits sequence. The man who originally played James Bond's double looked so much like Sean Connery that director Terence Young had to re-shoot the scene with a man with a mustache.
Kronsteen's death, the boat chase, the opening sequence with the fake Bond being killed by Red Grant, and all scenes with Blofeld were not in the original novel. These were inventions of the film version, most of which due in part to the fact that the main enemy agency was changed to the fictitious SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) rather than SMERSH (Shmert Spionam=Death to Spies), which at one time was a real Soviet counterintelligence agency.
Though he isn't shown actually taking it, it is implied that Bond keeps Grant's garrote watch, as the watch appears in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) when Bond cleans out his desk, as well as in a deleted scene in A View to a Kill (1985) when the Paris police return Bond's property.
The first line of the Ian Fleming James Bond novel "From Russia with Love" reads: "The naked man who lay splayed out on his face beside the swimming pool might have been dead." The last line of the novel reads: "He said, or thought he said, 'I've already got the loveliest...'. Bond pivoted slowly on his heel and crashed headlong to the wine-red floor." Bond dies a happy, protracted death after being lightly wounded by Rosa Klebb's shoe with a poisoned knife. Ian Fleming was frustrated with the lack of success the novels had had. But when this turned out to be a bestseller, Fleming continued the series instead, and later said From Russia With Love was the best of all the Bond novels.
On-screen body count: 21. This does not include the real Captain Nash, who is presumably killed by Grant off-camera, and Morzeny, who is seen burning following the explosion of the fuel tanks in the Adriatic, but not clearly seen to be dead.
The actor playing the Bond double did not actually have a mustache. On set, the filmmakers became concerned that audience members not yet familiar with Sean Connery would be confused when Grant pulls off the Bond/Connery mask. The mustache was added to make it clear that the dead "Bond" was someone else.